Abstract

This article views Chopin's Mazurka in C# Minor, op. 30, no. 4, as akin to a dream that is open to analysis from a Lacanian perspective. After a discussion of Jacques Lacan's famous orders of subjectivity (the imaginary, the symbolic order, and the Real), the article turns to his idea that a symptom is a message from the Real that demands interpretation. As such, strange moments in Chopin's Mazurka are like symptoms that require multiple interpretations in order to approach their hidden and overlapping meanings. The article proceeds to view Chopin's Mazurka through nineteenth-century notions of Orientalism (alterity), nationalism (nostalgia), coming to life (the automaton), tuberculosis (the boundary of life and death), and the uncanny (fragmentation of the body/mind). But just as Lacan argued that we can never reach a final meaning for a symptom, the article concludes that there can be no transcendental signified for the various symptomatic moments in Chopin's Mazurka. In the end, the Mazurka becomes what Lacan calls a sinthome, a form of subjectivity that is made up of the very symptoms that the subject strives to understand.

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